Archive for the ‘2011 Monthly Roadrunner News’ Category

December 2011 Roadrunner News

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CIA A-12 Pilot Ken Collins Enshrined in KAHOF

CollinsUSAF colonel and CIA A-12 Blackbird pilot Ken Collins inducted into the Kanas Aviation Hall of Fame

Rushing back from Paris, France where Colonel Collins spoke at the Aeroclub de France re the A-12, he honored all Roadrunners by his being enshrined into the Kansas Hall of Fame. His Hall of Fame plaque is on display at Topeka's Great Overland Station railroading museum at 701 N. Kansas Ave. in Topeka, Kansas. Following his induction, he returned to California where he spoke on Veterans Day in Redlands.
The Kansas Hall of Fame selection of Colonel Collins to forever be enshrined as one of Kansas' aviation heroes and legends is well founded. Born in Leavenworth, Kansas, one of the oldest Army Posts of the new western frontiers, Collins has following in the esteemed tradition of his heritage. His grandfather, Sergeant Edward E. Collins of the 10th U. S. Cavalry, was sent out with the Troopers to fight in the Battle of Wounded Knee.

In 1953, Collins was flying out of Kimpo Air Base in Korea with the 15th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron, "Cottonpickers" K-14, Kimpo, Korea. He departed Kimpo on a flight of two RF-86A's marking the target for F-80 Fighter bombers and strafing the North Korean radar site on a hill north of Pyongyang. On a stating run, Collins took fire and miraculously survived to bring his badly crippled plane back to Kimpo. Silver Star< It was reported that he was shot down behind enemy lines. For his heroics, Collins was awarded the Silver Star.

Ten years later, on 24 May 1963 - near Wendover, Utah. Collins was flying "a subsonic J-58 engine test flight in a ultra secret CIA A-12 when a icing problem caused the plane to stall and pitch up and over into an unrecoverable flat inverted spin. Having no positive idea of his real altitude, Collins was forced to eject from the inverted aircraft.

In 1967 Collins was one of six CIA A-12 pilots deployed operational with the A-12 to Okinawa where he flew six A-12 combat missions over North Vietnam to locate enemy SAM sites and to determine if the enemy possessed SSMs. For this he was awarded the CIA Intelligence Star for Valor. Collins' Military Awards include: Silver Star, xxxxIntelligence Star, Legion of Merit, three Distinguished Flying Crosses, three Air Medals, United Nations Service Medal, Korean Service Medal, Viet Nam Service Medal. More about Colonel Collins is posted at:
Collins Induction 2011

Final Flight Col. “Gimo” Yang

Colonel YangWith deep regret I again must inform you of the passing of one of our Roadrunner members. Departing on his final flight, Colonel 'Gimo' Yang, former pilot and commander of The Black Cat Squadron on Taiwan, died at his home here in Las Vegas yesterday. Yang was one of the first six Chinese pilots chosen for U-2 training at Del Rio to fly for the CAF in Taiwan. Prior to that Yang was flying RF-84 photorecon missions at low-level over the mainland from Taiwan. At Taiwan, he then served in Project Tackle, a joint CIA U-2 operation that the ROC referred to as Project Razor. Many of the Roadrunners participated with Yang in Detachment H, known as the Black Cats, including Colonel Hugh Slater of Henderson, Nevada who served as detachment commander prior to taking command of the 1129th at Groom Lake. Colonel Yang advanced to deputy squadron commander of the  while still one of the five operational pilots. Yang flew the second long penetration flight to the desert northwest of China plus numerous reconnaissance missions over China, eastern Tibet, and along the Burma/China border. Promoted to colonel, Yang frequently traveled to Washington with Chinese Air Force Chief of Stall General Yang Shao Lien to discuss U-2 business with OSA
The Roadrunner staff thanks Roadrunner Chris Pocock for this background information contained in his book, "50 Years of the U-2", and the photo from Gimo's album showing him with President Chiang Kai Shek, shortly after his first U-2 overflight mission of China in 1962.
Funeral services will be conducted at 10:00 hours on 21 December at:
Universal Chung Wah Funeral
225 N Garfield Ave,
Alhambra, CA 91801.
Phone 626-281-7887.
u-2 photo
Thornton D. "TD" Barnes
Roadrunners Internationale

29 September 2011 News Release

Nevada Aerospace Hall of Fame
468 Palegold Street
Henderson, NV 89012
Phone: 702-481-0568


CONTACT: Dawn Barlow-Curtis, 702-561-6372 September 29, 2011


HENDERSON, Nevada – September 29, 2011 is Media Day to kick off several exciting events leading up to the March 2012 opening of the Atomic Testing Museum’s new exhibit, Area 51 Myth or Reality. NVAHOF Director, Thornton D. “TD” Barnes, MSGT Harry Martin, and retired atmUSAF Lt. Col. Roger Andersen, all of Area 51 CIA Project OXCART fame, will join the Atomic Testing Museum for this special VIP Media Day where they will discuss their recently declassified activities at Area 51.

On October 4, 2011, at the museum, the NVAHOF will field a broad spectrum of former Area 51 CIA and Air Force pilots, project support personnel from CIA, FAA, USAF, and the civilian sector, to share their recently declassified accounts of the early projects at Area 51. This is a great kickoff for the Atomic Testing Museums Area 51 Myth or Reality exhibit, and an equally great opportunity for NVAHOF to educate the public and tomorrow’s engineers and leaders about the exciting, state-of-the-art achievements emerging from beneath the shroud of secrecy that is Area 51.

The evening of October 4th, NVAHOF, the Central Intelligence Agency, the UNLV Howard R. Hughes College of Engineering, and the UNLV History Department will conduct the second lecture of the Dean’s Conversation Series at 7:30 p.m. in the new UNLV Science and Engineering Building. Archangel: the CIA’s Supersonic A-12 Reconnaissance Aircraft, will be presented by CIA Chief Historian, Dr. David Robarge and a panel discussion will take place veterans of the A-12 program, CIA pilot, Frank Murray of Gardnerville, CIA Special Projects engineer/technician, TD Barnes of Henderson, and CIA/Air Force pilot and Operations Officer Roger Andersen of Las Vegas. Dr. Robarge will give a brief overview of CIA activities in Nevada during the Cold War and particularly will discuss the generalities of the A-12 program. The rest of the evening will be a conversation between the historical program participants and the audience. Only recently declassified, many of these details and topics have rarely been discussed in open public forums.

On Wednesday, October 5th, capitalizing on the presence of Roadrunners Internationale members and the Lockheed-Martin sponsor in town for the 22nd biennial Roadrunners Internationale reunion, NVAHOF has organized an optional activity for those attending the reunion to meet in Rachel, Nevada for a fun-filled afternoon mixing with the locals. Members of the public are welcome to join the tour. An invitation has also been extended to the Air Force to join in the fun as three decades or more of myths about Area 51 vaporize into reality. Dr. Robarge, Chief Historian at CIA, and Cheryl Moore, with the CIA EAA Store, will join in the public relations and fun as the Roadrunners autograph Dr. Robarge’s monograph and photos provided by NVAHOF photographer Mike Schmitz. Connie Pardew, NVAHOF Director of Communications and Development for Northern Nevada will generate an excellent account of this historical event. NVAHOF thanks Dreamland Resorts and Roadrunners Internationale webmaster, Joerg Arnu for organizing and managing this historic adventure. It has been said that controlling the Roadrunners on a tour is more challenging for the organizer than herding cats and chickens.

On October 7, 2011, following the Roadrunner reunion, Barnes, Friedrichs, Robarge, Moore, and Schmitz will join Nellis Public Affairs officer Gene Hill on a tour of Nellis AFB. After the tour they will be meeting to discuss plans for the organized collection and preservation of future declassified aerospace history to ensure that nothing is lost.

October 14, 2011, the NVAHOF will conduct its second annual Hall of Fame Enshrinement Ceremony and Dinner. Eight legends of aviation in the state of Nevada will be included this year. The event will be held at The Landing Restaurant in the Henderson Executive Air Terminal. The induction dinner and ceremony is open to the public. Those wishing information or wanting to attend can contact NVAHOF at

NVAHOF public outreach and educational activities for the past year included: promotional presence at the Reno Air Races and the Nellis Air Force Base Open House, and Naval Air Station, Fallon. NVAHOF also participated in the reunion of the Atomic Curtiss Marines and meetings of the Daedalians Fighter Flight #62 at Nellis AFB. On September 23rd NVAHOF participated in an educational tour of Bigelow Aerospace in North Las Vegas.

In 2010 the NVAHOF organized and participated in a 10-day, Oxcart Legacy Tour in Washington, D.C. Former workers of Nevada's Groom Lake facility gave presentations at the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), United States Geospatial Intelligence Foundation (USGIF), the Smithsonian’s Air & Space Museum, the Capitol Hill Club, and the International Spy Museum. They held their first induction ceremony in November 2010.

About the Nevada Aerospace Hall of Fame

The Nevada Aerospace Hall of Fame is a non-profit, educational foundation dedicated to preserving the legacy of the men and women who pioneered aerospace within the State of Nevada. The Nevada Aerospace Hall of Fame established and maintains an ongoing means of honoring individuals who have contributed in a significant manner, to the development, advancement, and promotion of aerospace in the Battle Born State of Nevada, or elsewhere. NVAHOF also honors individuals who were not native to Nevada, but whose careers enhanced the aerospace climate worldwide as well as in space. The mission of NVAHOF is unique as it especially recognizes and honors the men and women of the Cold War who worked within the CIA, USAF, and civilians, who worked in secrecy at Groom Lake, the Nevada Test Site, the NASA High Range, Tonopah Test Range, Nellis AFB, Creech AFB, the Fallon Air Station, Stead AFB, and related sites in the state of Nevada.

The goal is to foster, promote, and encourage a better sense of appreciation by the public of those persons’ contributions and the role of aerospace, and to perpetuate the memory of those honored by means of public displays and announcements. Except in cases involving national security concerns, archival materials collected in the course of researching the above mentioned individuals, will be filed for future historical reference. Exceptional and responsible consideration will be given to selection of nominees without compromising the secrecy of their deeds and accomplishments.

The primary educational objectives of the NVAHOF focus on honoring the past while promoting the future of aviation. NVAHOF provides a state-wide Speakers Bureau for outreach within the community. They have also created an accessible archive of Nevada aviation history on the organizations website. An on-line virtual museum and artifact archive/storage satisfies the final educational objective, while the NVAHOF searches for a permanent home for its collection. The uniqueness and diversity of Nevada’s aviation projects make it the most important state in the nation in regards to cutting-edge aerospace technology and development.

September 2011 Roadrunner News

As some of you know, Frank Murray of A-12 Pilot fame is authoring another bit of our Roadrunner history that has never been published before. The subject of his latest contribution to our OXCART and BLACKSHIELD history and legacy is the secret moving of the A-12 Articles from the Skunk Works to Groom Lake. Many have seen the declassified photos of the convoy of California highway patrol, CIA security, etc. escorting semi trucks loaded with huge boxes containing the A-12 planes. What few realize is that this classified movement occurred for the transport of each of the A-12 and YF-12 Blackbirds we flew at the Ranch. (Two SR-71s were also delivered to Palmdale in these boxes). At the time, it was a really big deal. We have some photos of the boxes being constructed at the Skunkworks and those of that one trip to Nevada. Frank is seeking any additional photos, stories about the moves, details on the routes taken, security concerns, incidents, etc. How were the planes removed from the boxes; were the boxes torn down for transport back to the Skunkworks, etc. This is an unknown piece of our legacy and history, folks, so get those brain cells working and help Frank put this in the history books.

Along this same line, Col. Sam Pizzo has provided an excellent article about who all arrived when he did at the Area, how he was recruited by Col. Holbury, and a descriptive account of what the mission planners did at the Ranch during the OXCART flIghts. Sam is adding this chapter to his book that he will soon have available as an ebook for download on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. It is an excellent book and Colonel Pizzo is to be commended for his time and effort to record this for the sake of history. The added paragraph is being published by the Atomic Testing Museum for distribution on October 4 during the Roadrunners Internationale reunion.

Concerning the Roadrunner reunion (3-6 October, Gold Coast Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas), we are very happy to report a much larger turnout than previously expected. The registration count is now over 200. Initially, the Roadrunner reunion organizers planned two activities: A day at the Atomic Testing Museum similar to the last reunion where we would have conducted panel discussions before the public and the media (last reunion it was for C-Span). For a second activity, we planned a tour of Bigelow Aerospace, the company with two expandable modules in orbit, a concept that will eventually develop into human habitats in space. When the Roadrunners attending the reunion stated a lack of interest in either activity, the reunion organizers dropped both activities and are leaving it up to those attending to make their own fun.

The lack of Roadrunner interest in the Atomic Testing Museum event did not terminate the event. The Roadrunners were given the privilege of kicking off a 2-year exhibit titled “Area 51 – Myth or Reality. Details of this project were covered in previous newsletters and we thought that the Roadrunners would welcome being a part of it. Some of the Roadrunners do want to participate, so NVAHOF, the Nevada Aerospace Hall of Fame stepped in to assist the ATM (Atomic Testing Museum) in making it happen. Several Roadrunners are participants in NVAHOF and support its efforts to maintain the legacy of the Roadrunners as well as the other aviation and aerospace activities occurring in Nevada. Next year, NVAHOF plans to conduct its Hall of Fame ceremony as part of the Reno Air races. While it already has a great track record, NVAHOF is still in the seeking grants and sponsorship stage. Check us out at:
2010 Hall of Fame Induction at the Henderson Executive Air Terminal
Recent activities

Roadrunner Jack Bassick of David Clark Co. made available to the Area 51 exhibit at the Atomic Testing Museum the duplicate pressure suit of A-12 pilot flight suitJack Weeks, whom we lost in the Pacific during Operation Black Shield. Several other Roadrunners are contributing to the exhibit as well. The Pratt & Whitney personnel are bringing back the great exhibits they brought to the last reunion. Associate member Joerg Arnu, Pete Merlin, and Dr. Paul Suhler are contributing their exhibits as well. The Roadrunner staff will also contribute to the exhibits.

As we mentioned in the previous newsletters, NVAHOF and Col. Allan Palmer, Executive Director of the ATM, and the ATM staff are striving for a permanent Area 51 exhibit at the ATM. The City of Henderson, Nevada is also talking to NVAHOF about it having a building within the future Space & Science Museum for exhibiting artifacts of Area 51. As most of you know, the state of Nevada did not retain any of the technology demonstrators first flown in Nevada, starting with the U-2 and A-12 that flew out of Groom Lake. We intend to persuade the state to adopt and modify the motto of Las Vegas to - “What happens in Nevada stays in Nevada.” In this regard, besides the mentioned museums, Nellis AFB has expressed an interest in our obtaining a U-2 or A-12, however it appears that neither are available at this time.

Regarding the 18-month Area 51 exhibit that the Roadrunner members and others are kicking off on the 4th of October, this is not a one-time event. Each month, we plan to organize a public educational event where a group, our CIA security guards for an example, will field an informal Q&A session for the public visiting the exhibit. Each month will be a different team or declassified project occurring at Groom Lake. I emphasize educational as many of those attending will be organized school events to educate our youth. Both NVAHOF (a 501(c )(3) nonprofit) and the ATM are devoted to education. While NVAHOF will be participating in the ATM project, being an entity covering the entire state, NVAHOF will initiate similar activities with the Navy at Fallon, NASA, and the civilian sector. To explain the Oct 4th event more fully, the following is from the organizer at the ATM:

Hello All:

The museum is gearing up for the Men of Area 51 event on Oct. 4th and the
Area 51 exhibit that will open in the Spring.

We are hoping that you will all participate in our events.

The Oct. 4th event will include meet/greet and talk segments. Rather than do panels that can only have a few participants we are doing a series of talks throughout the day. I am setting up the program so is you or a group you put together would like to give a talk on some aspect of Area 51 or project development let me know. If you want to participate in the meet and greet and need a table area -
also let me know.

The exhibit on Area 51 will have a number of areas that spotlight the workers of Area 51. Visitors will receive an ID card with real peoples names, photos and job on them and that persons story will be woven into the exhibit. I want to spotlight you! If you are willing to participate in the exhibit please send me a photo (then or now), and information that includes}
Height, Weight, Hair Color, Eye Color, Job Title and brief description of your job.

The last event we did at the museum was incredible. This year, the Oct. 4th event will be bigger and better and is the kick-off for the Area 51 exhibit and 18 months of events. Already both the Travel Channel and the History Channel have been to the museum to do stories on the future exhibit. I really would like you to be a part of this event.

Thanks for your help,

Karen Green, Curator
Atomic Testing Museum
755 East Flamingo Rd.
Las Vegas, NV 89119

We hope our fellow Roadrunners will think of NVAHOF as a disposition of your memorabilia affiliated with Groom Lake or any other aviation/aerospace activity occurring in the state of Nevada. Speaking for NVAHOF, we hope you will consider supporting our goals. Besides honoring those who significantly contributed to aerospace in the state of Nevada, we are seeking to establish two student scholarships to assist our future engineers, astronauts, etc. In meeting their goals. We welcome you to visit the NVAHOF website being constructed by students: I am attaching our latest news release to enlighten you further on our activities to carry on the legacy of the Roadrunners and those serving after us at the Ranch.

Putting my Roadrunner hat back on, the Roadrunner staff has made great headway towards getting our aging house in order. The Roadrunner website is now being administered by Associate Member, Joerg Arnu. Arnu was born in Hamel, Germany in 1962. He obtained his Masters degree in Electrical Engineering with a minor in Computer Science from the University of Hanover in 1986. He worked as a software engineer for Siemens in Berlin and then founded his own software company to develop control systems for stage lighting. Arnu lives in Las Vegas and is employed as a software engineer. He has assisted with the management of the Roadrunner website for the past 4 years. He and Barnes will continue to work together on the website with the intent for Arnu to continue it when Barnes no long can. Arnu will be the prime maintainer of the site on non-personnel matters. Barnes will continue upkeep of the roster and technical matters relating to OXCART.

Frank Murray will continue as our historian as we establish and record the history of the Roadrunners known only to those with boots on the ground at the time. However, to maintain our legacy project, Associate Member Pete Merlin is taking custody of our association administrative records. Merlin was born in Hollywood, California. He received his Bachelor of Science degree in Aeronautical Studies from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Florida. Merlin is a member of the Flight Test Historical Foundation and Nevada Test Site Historical Foundation, as well as an associate member of Roadrunners Internationale. Merlin has worked as an archivist and historian at NASA Dryden Flight Research Center, under various contracts since 1997. He is the author of Mach 3+: NASA/USAF YF-12 Flight Research, 1969-1979 and co-author of Donald L. Mallick’s autobiography The Smell of Kerosene: A Test Pilot’s Odyssey, both NASA publications. He has written From Archangel to Senior Crown – Design and Development of the Blackbird for the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, a technological case study of the design evolution of the A-12 and SR-71. With Tony Moore, he wrote X-Plane Crashes: Exploring Experimental, Rocket Plane and Spycraft Incidents, Accidents, and Crash Sites, a collection of stories about aerospace archaeology published by Specialty Press. As a freelance writer, Merlin has published numerous articles on the Internet as well as in a variety of periodicals, including AIR&SPACE Smithsonian Magazine, covering subjects from aerospace history to nuclear weapons accidents. He has also appeared on such television programs as Man, Moment, Machine: Shot Down – The U-2 Spy Plane; Modern Marvels: Edwards Air Force Base; Inside Area 51; UFO: Down To Earth – Retrieval; Return to Area 51; Mystery Hunters; and Atomic Journeys: Welcome to Ground Zero. A founding member of the X-Hunters Aerospace Archeology Team, he specializes in recovering historic aircraft artifacts from crash sites in the southwestern United States.

Fred White is our official Roadrunner photographer. For those events where Fred could not be present, Associate Member Mike Schmitz has been fulfilling this position. Schmitz covered our event in Mobile where we and the CIA paid remembrance to Jack Weeks on the 40th anniversary of his death. He participated in this capacity at the recent 10-day OXCART Legacy Tour in Washington, and covered the 80th birthday bash of CIA U-2 pilot and legend Marty Knutson. Schmitz has provided photographer services at all our last few reunions, and has designed and produced the legendary photos of the A-12 pilots grouped with the image of the A-12 that Roadrunners Internationale presented to the Director of the CIA, top officials of the CIA, various museums, and dignitaries having interest in our proud legacy. Schmitz served in the Air Force as an enlisted man with the SR-71.

Each of these individuals are affiliated with the Nevada Aerospace Hall of Fame as historians to ensure the legacy of the Roadrunners is not forgotten. Associate Roadrunner Member Connie Pardew-May is the NVAHOF Director of Communications and Development for Northern Nevada. Dawn Curtis is the Director of Communications and Development for Southern Nevada. Jim Braum is the treasurer. Associate Roadrunner Mike Schmitz is the official photographer. Schmitz covered the inaugural induction last year. Associate Roadrunner member Robert Friedrichs is the co-founder of NVAHOF with Roadrunner president T.D. Barnes, the Director of NVAHOF. Friedrich recently retired from DOE where he served as Scientific Advisor for the National Nuclear Security Agency. Friedrich continues to consult for _ _.

Those attending the reunion, we'll see you very soon. We hope to see the rest of you at the reunion after this one.

Thornton D. (TD) Barnes
Roadrunners Internationale
468 Palegold St., Henderson, NV 89012 (702) 566-4168
"You can delegate authority but not responsibility"
What did you do today for freedom?

July 2011 Roadrunner News

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March 2011 Roadrunner News

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